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By Deacon Keith Fournier

11/20/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now, I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for the revered and holy laws

We pray for our grandfathers, our grandmothers, who often have had a heroic role in the transmission of the faith in times of persecution. When mum and dad were not at home and also had strange idea, that the policies of that time taught, the grandmothers were the ones who passed on the faith.Today let us petition the old Saints - Simeone, Anna, Polycarp and Eleazar - so many old Saints: Let us ask for the grace to cherish, to listen to and venerate our elderly, our grandparents. (Pope Francis)

On Tuesday, November 19, 2013, Pope Francis gave his regular homily at daily Mass for the faithful who gather at the Chapel called St Martha's House. The first reading, taken from the Old Testament, recounted the inspiring story from the Second Book of Maccabees concerning the heroic virtue of Eleazar,  a man of advanced age and noble appearance.

On Tuesday, November 19, 2013, Pope Francis gave his regular homily at daily Mass for the faithful who gather at the Chapel called St Martha's House. The first reading, taken from the Old Testament, recounted the inspiring story from the Second Book of Maccabees concerning the heroic virtue of Eleazar, a man of advanced age and noble appearance.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/20/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: grandparents, elderly, Pope Francis, St Martha's House, saints, martyrs, Eleazar, King Antiochus, Deacon Keith Fournier


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - On Tuesday, November 19, 2013, Pope Francis gave his regular homily at daily Mass for the faithful who gather at the Chapel called St Martha's House. The first reading, taken from the Old Testament, recounted the inspiring story from the Second Book of Maccabees concerning the heroic virtue of Eleazar,  a "man of advanced age and noble appearance"

The events occurred during the brutal and bloody persecution against the Jewish people unleashed by King Antiochus. The temple was sacrilegiously consecrated to Zeus and profaned with decadent acts. The Jewish people were forbidden to celebrate the Sabbath and compelled by the pagan King to offer idolatrous sacrifices or face torture and death.

Eleazar was ninety years old, a scribe, and deeply respected, even by Jews who had succumbed to idolatry and became enforcers of the regime. They tried to help Eleazar, offering ways in which he could pretend to comply while technically not violating the Jewish law. They invited him to compromise. For example, he could pretend to be eating meat sacrificed to the emperor, they would substitute other meat, protect him and spare his life from death. He refused and stood strong as a witness.

Eleazar showed dedication to the Law of the Lord. He manifested the kind of holy courage which the Jewish people needed to witness to stand firm against sacrilege and for the truth. It en-couraged them to summon up what was needed to stay faithful. He was especially concerned that the young not be led astray by his actions.  He told those who offered to help him compromise in order to save his life:

At our age it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense; many young people would think the ninety-year-old Eleazar had gone over to an alien religion. Should I thus pretend for the sake of a brief moment of life, they would be led astray by me, while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age. Even if, for the time being, I avoid the punishment of men, I shall never, whether alive or dead, escape the hands of the Almighty. Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now, I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for the revered and holy laws. (2 MC 6:18-31)

Pope Francis is at heart a pastor. His daily homilies demonstrate this fact. He breaks open the text presented in the readings of the day and then applies it to daily life. It has taken some time for many in the media, and in some church circles, to get used to the seemingly spontaneous style. I love it. Some refer to his daily homily as a ferverino. The Italian word refers to a short sermon or reflection which is meant to confirm and strengthen the faith of those who hear it.

He used the story to call for a rediscovery of the indispensable role of grandparents and the elderly in the transmission of the faith. In fact, he called for old saints, men and women of later years who live heroic virtue. A summary of his homily entitled  A nation that does not respect grandparents, has no future, because it has no memory  was offered by the Vatican Insider . Here is a portion.

*****
Today's homily was inspired by the story of Eleazar in the Book of the Maccabees. Eleazar , faced with the choice between apostasy and fidelity has no doubts,  rejecting pretence, pretence of mercy, of fake religiosity ...  Indeed, instead of worrying about himself, he thinks of the young people of those for whom his act of courage could leave a memorable impression. He chooses martyrdom in keeping with his faith in the Lord. Sacrificing one's life is better than obtaining salvation through hypocrisy. 

Pope Francis drew attention to the consistency of this man, the consistency of his faith, but also the responsibility of leaving behind a noble legacy, [a] true legacy. We live in a time in which the elderly do not count. It's a horrible thing to say, but they are discarded, is it not so? Why bother with them. The elderly people are the ones who carry history within them, who bring us doctrine, who bring us the faith and give it to us as a legacy. They are the ones who, like the good old wine, they have this inner strength to give us a noble inheritance.

In relation to this, the Pope recalled a story he heard as a child.The protagonist is a family - dad, mum, many children - and a grandfather, who when he ate soup at the table dirtied his face. Annoyed, the father buys a coffee table to isolate his parent. One day that same dad comes home and sees one of the children playing with wood. What are you making? he asks. A table, replied the child."And why? For you, Dad, for when you get old like Grandpa.

Francis said this story was a good lesson. Grandparents are a treasure. The Letter to the Hebrews, the twelfth chapter tells us: Remember your leaders, who have preached to you, those who have preached the Word of God. And considering their outcome imitate their faith.  The memory of our ancestors brings us to the imitation of faith. 

At times old age many is a little hard, is it not?
Francis asked. The illnesses that it brings and all that, but the wisdom that our grandparents custody is the legacy that we must receive. A people who do not cherish their grandparents, a people who do not meet their grandparents, has no future, because it has no memory, it has lost its memory.  We will do well to think of the many old and elderly people, many who are in nursing homes, and even many - it is the ugly word, but let's say it - who are abandoned to themselves. They are the treasure of our society

We pray for our grandfathers, our grandmothers, who often have had a heroic role in the transmission of the faith in times of persecution. When mum and dad were not at home and also had strange idea, that the policies of that time taught, the grandmothers were the ones who passed on the faith, Francis said.

Francis concluded his homily with a comment on the fourth commandment: it is the only one that promises something in return. It is the commandment of mercy. Be compassionate with our ancestors. Today let us petition the old Saints - Simeone, Anna, Polycarp and Eleazar - so many old Saints: Let us ask for the grace to cherish, to listen to and venerate our elderly, our grandparents.

---


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